HUD AWARDS $5.3 MILLION TO PUBLIC HOUSING AUTHORITIES IN INDIANA TO HELP KEEP RESIDENTS HOUSED

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced $472 million nationally in CARES Act funding to help low-income families during the coronavirus pandemic, including $5.3 million to 49 public housing authorities (PHAs) throughout Indiana.

This funding can be used by public housing authorities to help families assisted by Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) and Mainstream vouchers prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus. 

“This funding will provide additional resources to public housing authorities to make sure people have a decent, safe, and affordable place to call home,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “HUD continues to work with our public housing authorities to protect American families from this invisible enemy, including vulnerable residents in the Housing Choice Voucher Program.”

“These new funds are important and will go a long way to help low-income residents secure and retain affordable housing during this unprecedented time,” said Hunter Kurtz, Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing.

“Public housing authorities have a vital role to play as we continue our COVID‑19 recovery efforts,” said Joseph P. Galvan, HUD Midwest Regional Administrator. “We will continue working diligently to overcome this as expeditiously as possible.”

The Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCV) includes the Mainstream Program that provides tenant-based vouchers serving low-income households.

The eligible coronavirus-related activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Procuring cleaning supplies and/or services to maintain safe and sanitary HCV units, including common areas of PHA-owned Project-Based Voucher (PBV) projects.
  • Relocation of participating families to health units or other designated units for testing, hospitalization, or quarantine, or transportation to these locations to limit the exposure that could be caused by using mass transportation.
  • Additional costs to supportive services vendors incurred due to coronavirus.
  • Costs to retain or increase owner participation in the HCV Program, such as incentive or retention costs (e.g. the PHA offers the owner an incentive payment to participate in recognition of added difficulties of making units available for HCV families to rent while stay-at-home orders or social distancing practices are in effect).
  • Costs for providing childcare for the children of PHA staff that would not have otherwise been incurred (e.g. children are at home due to school closings, PHA staff are working outside of regular work schedules, etc.).

For more information on HUD’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the actions the Department has taken, please visit HUD.gov/coronavirus. Public housing authorities across the nation have jumped into action to help assist their tenants and their communities during this unprecedented time. Read more about their stories featured in HUD’s Neighbors Helping Neighbors campaign, here.

The following public housing authorities across Indiana received funding:

State
Public Housing Authority
City
Amount
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Anderson
Anderson
 $          181,719
IN
Housing Authority City of Bedford
Bedford
 $            18,991
IN
Knox County Housing Authority
Bicknell
 $            25,407
IN
Bloomfield Housing Authority
Bloomfield
 $              3,456
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Bloomington
Bloomington
 $          177,736
IN
Brazil Housing Authority
Brazil
 $            10,392
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Charlestown
Charlestown
 $              5,451
IN
Columbus Housing Authority
Columbus
 $            76,410
IN
Housing Authority of the County of Fayette
Connersville
 $            39,244
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Crawfordsville
Crawfordsville
 $            53,330
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Decatur
Decatur
 $            21,064
IN
Housing Authority of the City of East Chicago
East Chicago
 $          132,662
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Elkhart
Elkhart
 $            94,317
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Elwood
Elwood
 $            43,476
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Evansville
Evansville
 $          284,546
IN
Fort Wayne Housing Authority
Fort Wayne
 $          379,172
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Gary Indiana
Gary
 $          279,829
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Greencastle
Greencastle
 $            18,231
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Greensburg
Greensburg
 $              8,557
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Hammond
Hammond
 $          109,457
IN
Indianapolis Housing Agency
Indianapolis
 $      1,213,873
IN
Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority
Indianapolis
 $          793,270
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Jasonville
Jasonville
 $              3,969
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Jeffersonville
Jeffersonville
 $            49,937
IN
Kokomo Housing Authority
Kokomo
 $            91,905
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Lafayette
Lafayette
 $          177,468
IN
Linton Housing Authority
Linton
 $            23,687
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Logansport
Logansport
 $            33,708
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Marion
Marion
 $            49,683
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Michigan City
Michigan City
 $            39,404
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Warsaw
Milford
 $            46,897
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Mishawaka
Mishawaka
 $            40,766
IN
Mount Vernon Housing Authority
Mt. Vernon
 $            22,375
IN
Delaware County Housing Authority
Muncie
 $            22,862
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Muncie
Muncie
 $          106,791
IN
Housing Authority of the City of New Albany
New Albany
 $            81,019
IN
New Castle Housing Authority
New Castle
 $            37,858
IN
Noblesville Housing Authority
Noblesville
 $            30,219
IN
Housing Authority of the County of St. Joseph
North Liberty
 $            22,648
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Peru
Peru
 $            19,622
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Richmond
Richmond
 $            35,974
IN
Rockville Housing Authority
Rockville
 $            13,333
IN
Seymour Housing Authority
Seymour
 $            19,090
IN
Housing Authority of South Bend
South Bend
 $          269,555
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Tell City
Tell City
 $              7,548
IN
Cannelton Housing Authority
Tell City
 $            17,356
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Terre Haute
Terre Haute
 $            99,881
IN
Housing Authority of the City of Union City
Union City
 $            15,973
IN
Vincennes Housing Authority
Vincennes
 $            35,722
Indiana Total
$ 5,385,840
National Total
$472,204,315

Davisson, Houchin, McCormick Support Funding Schools During Covid

Public schools that do not offer an in-person education option could see their budgets cut, despite prior assurances from Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state leaders that they would be fully funded.

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray sent a letter to school leaders last Thursday – after dozens of districts around the state have already started — to offer “a bit more clarity” about state funding.

Bray wrote in the letter, which is attached in full.

“With some public schools looking to adjust their reopening plans for the 2020-21 school year, there have been many questions as to the level of funding. I want to make sure that school leaders understand the current state law for school funding as it pertains to virtual instruction, and how their school’s FY 2021 funding may be impacted by their reopening decisions.

“Current state law stipulates that schools will receive 85% of the normal foundation funding for any student who receives at least half of his or her instruction virtually. Changing this policy would require legislation to be passed by the General Assembly in our next session.”

According to Indiana Representative Steve Davisson, that is exactly what would need to be done. 

Dr. Jennifer McCormick, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, said she was disappointed to receive the letter.

“The fluidity created by this pandemic has already added undue burden to districts who are focused on establishing and maintaining safe learning environments for students and staff,” she said in a release on Friday. “A potential 15 percent cut per pupil is not sustainable at a time districts are working hard to create multiple learning platforms. Penalizing districts who cannot offer onsite instruction leads to dangerous decision making.”

“I urge Governor Holcomb to honor the promise he made to Hoosier children to provide sustainable funding to K-12 schools, by calling a special session to address this concern. We must do better for our children and families,” noted McCormick. 

State Senator Erin Houchin said she supports the original school funding proposal. 

“Like many others, I was surprised to see information in the news that seemed to threaten public school funding amid the COVID crisis,” Houchin wrote on her social media page. 

“I want to make it clear that I oppose cutting funding to schools that choose online options during the pandemic,” noted Houchin.
 
“Rather, I support the ability of local districts to decide what is best for their schools, students, and teachers as they proceed with the upcoming school year. The number one priority for all of us should be the health and safety of our children, educators and their families.”
 
School leaders should not be burdened with financial worries as they navigate how to reopen, she said.
 
“I will continue working with my colleagues, other elected leaders, and our local districts to ensure schools are fully funded during these uncertain times,” said Houchin.

Schools offering only virtual instruction should plan on operating under the state’s current funding policy, Bray said, which only funds students that receive half or more of their instruction online at 85% of traditional students.

Indiana funds schools on a per-student basis, so the policy would mean that school districts offering only virtual instruction would receive about $850 less per student than they were expecting.

 

Bobby Reynolds, age 53 of Salem

Bobby Reynolds, age 53 of Salem, passed away Friday, August 7, 2020 at
8:59 am, in his residence.

Born September 1, 1966 in Salem, Indiana, he was the son of the late
Victor Doyle Reynolds and Nola S. (Brown) Reynolds.

He was a 1986 graduate of Eastern High School and worked in construction

Survivors include: His Mother: Nola Reynolds, Son: Justin Reynolds,
Sister: Tammy Pullen and Brother: Brian Reynolds, all of Salem; Niece:
Katrice Heatherly and Nephew: Kyle Heatherly.

He was preceded in death by: His father, 3 aunts: Beulah Brown, Kathleen
Hoskins and Verlin Brown; 2 uncles: J. C. Brown and Clyde Brown and 1
Grandmother: Alice Brown.

There will be a Memorial Service at a later date.
Arrangements by Dawalt Funeral Home

Local Cases Increase by 29.9 Percent; State Sees Third Day of Record Numbers

The State of Indiana reported its third straight day of 1,000-plus Covid-19 cases on Saturday, increasing by 1,036. 

The state’s total is now at 73,287 cases since March. 

The Indiana State Health Department doesn’t share recovery data, although the Regenstrief Institute has set up an online dashboard that does.

According to their dashboard, 54,068 Hoosiers have recovered from the virus or 75.8 percent who have tested positive. 

Statewide, there were 13 more deaths reported since yesterday. That total is now at 2,834. 

There were 11,402 tests administered since yesterday which yields a 7.5 positivity rate for the past week. Overall, the state has administered 828,466 total tests which gives an overall positivity rate of 8.8 percent.

Washington County had 8 new cases reported since Thursday, bringing the total to 139 and a 29.9 percent increase since last week. This is a 7-day positivity rate of 8.2 percent.

According to the Regenstrief Institute, Washington County has had 9 people hospitalized for Covid-19, with 29 emergency room visits. 

Six have been admitted to the ICU. There has only been one death reported in Washington County. 

There were 60 new cases reported in the 10 county area WSLM has been tracking since March. There were only two new deaths reported, one each in Clark and Floyd Counties. 

As of Friday, August 7 according to the Indiana Department of Health

  • NEW CASES 1036
  • NEW DEATHS 13
  • NEW TEST 11,402

 

  • TOTAL CASES 73,287 
  • TOTAL DEATHS 2,834
  • TOTAL TESTING 828,466

 

7 DAY POSITIVITY RATE – 7.5 percent

Total Positivity Rate – 8.8 percent

 

156 NEW CASES IN OUR LOCAL AREA 

Lawrence County

  • 4692 Tests, 342 Cases, 27 Deaths – 5 New Cases
  • 7.5 percent positivity rate

Jackson County

  • 5112 Tests, 585 Cases, 5 deaths – 23 new cases
  • 7.7 percent positivity rate

Jennings County

  • 2338 Tests, 224 Cases, 12  deaths 8 new cases
  • 9.6 percent positivity rate

Orange County

  • 1923 Tests, 169 Cases, 24 deaths – 3 new cases
  • 5.3 percent positivity rate

Washington County

  • 2208 Tests, 139 Cases, 1 death, 8 new cases 
  • 8,2 percent  positivity rate

Scott County

  • 3547 Tests, 257 Cases, 10  deaths  –  5 new case
  • 10 percent positivity rate

Clark County

  • 13566 Tests, 1202 Cases, 47 deaths – 54 new cases 
  • 9.4 percent positivity rate

Floyd County

  • 9149 Tests, 772 Cases, 46 deaths, 32 new cases
  • 10.4 percent positivity rate

Harrison County

  • 3866 Tests, 327 Cases, 23 deaths  18 new cases
  • 8,2 percent positivity rate

Crawford County

  • 937 Tests, 44 Cases, 0 deaths – 0 new cases
  • 3,2 percent positivity rate

High School Football To Continue But With Limited Fans

High School football returns in two weeks but with a limitation on the number of fans who can attend, according to new guidelines from The Indiana High School Athletic Association. 

“It is better than no fans, at least we can get parents there to be able to watch their kids play,” said West Washington Athletic Director Darren Russell. “It will be different but at least our kids get to play.”
 

Senator Football Coach and Superintendent Keith Nance said, “WW fans always show up and support our team and it will be different for sure. But, when a Senator puts on their helmet and crosses that white line they are playing for their teammates, their school and to win. That will not change.”

The IHSAA says fans will be allowed to attend events this fall, but each set of bleachers will be capped at 50% capacity or 250 people, whichever comes first.

Families will be able to sit together but must be six feet away from another family.

“Obviously, the reduction in crowd sizes will hit us hard financially,” said Salem High School Athletic Director Hank Weedin. “However, this latest allowable attendance is much better than the previously released number.  250 per set of bleachers (if able to still social distance) is much better than the original 250 total which included the players and coaches.”

Weedin said there will be people unable to attend due to us reaching maximum capacity. 

“We will not be able to offer season passes/family passes due to having to be able to track the number of attendees.  A reduction in the size of the crowd will also take away from the game experience for the players but at this point, I think kids are so ready to play and afraid of losing another season that they would be fine with playing in front of no fans if necessary to assure we get a season in.”

Weedin stressed the need for Lions fans to cooperate with the rules. 

“The biggest thing I can stress is that we need our fans to cooperate and pull together to make this work,” he said. “There will be rules and changes that are different than a normal year but we have to focus on what is important…which is our kids.  If fans do not follow the guidelines of wearing a mask and social distancing, regardless of your personal beliefs on the effectiveness/governmental control/etc., we run the risk of high school sports being shut down.  Obviously, the ultimate goal is to keep people healthy but a by-product of following the guidelines and cooperating is that high school sports may be able to continue.  A few people choosing to buck the system can ruin it for everyone, especially the kids, which is what this is all about.”

Weedin said the school is working on a plan for ticket distribution and will share that information that once a detailed plan in place

WSLM 97.9 FM and WSLM 1220 AM, which are both members of the IHSAA Champions Sports Network, will broadcast the games for Eastern, Salem and West Washington LIVE on the radio as well as streaming them online. 

“We lost part of our sports season this spring as Covid-19 shut down the Big Ten Tournament and with no NCAA Basketball tournament as well as the start of baseball, WSLM began playing some classic games,” said station owner Becky White. “We played classic IU basketball games, classic Reds and Pacers broadcasts. Also, WSLM has broadcast the Indianapolis 500 LIVE consistently since 1953 and we didn’t want to spoil that record, so we worked with IMS to broadcast last year’s race in May so we could continue that streak. Of course, we’ll still broadcast the event later this month from the famed track in Speedway.”

White said she was glad to see high school sports return as it is an indication of normalcy as well as a positive outlet for the youth to get them back to what they love to do. 

“I just hope it’s done in a safe way that keeps both players, staff and fans safe during this pandemic,” said White. 

In the end, though, the IHSAA says each school may still enforce its own stricter guidelines if their county sees fit.

Washington County Health Nurse Alicia Thompson said fans will be required to sign in when attending local games.

“Everyone in attendance must sign in (name and phone number) so that if there was a confirmed positive we would already have a list of potential exposures,” said Thompson.

“The schools may decide who they let in to observe based on the number of people allowed at their games, similar to Adams Co. I have heard that some schools are giving out a certain amount of tickets to each player to assist with this process.  The 50% capacity or 250 people is also based on if bleachers still allow for social distancing. Every schools’ bleachers are different sizes and that will also help dictate the number allowed.”

All three schools in Adams County announced Monday that the general public will not be allowed to attend events this fall. Only four family members of each high school senior on the team will be permitted.

The IHSAA guidelines also mentioned that student-athletes who remain on the sidelines should wear a mask. If a school must cancel a contest because of coronavirus, it will not be considered a “forfeit” but rather a “no contest.”

For guidelines designed specifically for an individual sport, the IHSAA is suggesting schools and teams following the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released. 

Click here for a copy — 

IHSAA pointed to a study conducted by UW Health & the University of Wisconsin that found more than two-thirds of high school athletes reported anxiety and depression since the onset of the pandemic.

Additional guidance:

  • Contests canceled due to COVID-19 will not be required to pay a cancellation fee. 
  • If a contest is canceled due to COVID-19, it should be recorded as “No Contest”. 
  • Anyone who is not engaged in strenuous physical activity should be wearing a mask. 
  • Athletes can wear neck gaiters and should slip them up over their nose when they are not participating in the contest.
  • If a school decides to sell concessions, it is recommended that all items sold in the concession stand be pre-packaged prior to sale.
  • Spectators will be allowed at the discretion of the host school with guidance from local health officials and in accordance with the governor’s stage 4.5. 
  • IHSAA by-laws 9-14 (Practice Attendance Required to Participate in a Contest) and 50-1/101-1 (Pre-Participation Practice) will remain in effect.

Local Covid Cases Increased By 53 In Two Weeks; 10 Overnight

There has been an increase in Covid-19 cases in Washington County by 53 in the past two weeks, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. 

Washington County’s numbers rose by 10 overnight, which is the county’s largest increase to date. 

There were 94 total new cases in the WSLM LISTENING AREA of 10 local counties. 

There were 54 Covid tests given locally on August 3 and 38 given on August 4. 

This coincides with the start of school for East and West Washington Schools, but there is no information to indicate where these tests were administered. 

That number dropped on August 5 to only 5 tests. 

Overall, in Washington County, there have been 2,155 tests administered since March. 

Overall in Indiana, the state has seen the biggest increases since the pandemic began being recorded in March. 

Thursday’s numbers reported 1,051 new cases in the state and numbers released this morning topped that – at 1,253. 

ISDH reports that 2,155 people have been tested locally. 

The 7-day positivity rate is 9.3 percent. 

Only one death has been reported locally. 

There were 10 deaths reported around Indiana today with a total of 2,821. 

94 NEW CASES IN OUR LOCAL AREA

Lawrence County

  • 4616 Tests, 336 Cases, 27 Deaths – minus 1 Case
  • 6.2 percent positivity rate

Jackson County

  • 5065 Tests, 572 Cases, 5 deaths – 10 new cases
  • 6.7 percent positivity rate

Jennings County

  • 2306 Tests, 220 Cases, 12  deaths – 5 new cases
  • 6.2 percent positivity rate

Orange County

  • 1900 Tests, 166 Cases, 24 deaths – 0 new cases
  • 6.5 percent positivity rate

Washington County

  • 2155 Tests, 131 Cases, 1 death, 10 new cases 
  • 9.3 percent  positivity rate

Scott County

  • 3596 Tests, 263 Cases, 10  deaths  –  6 new case
  • 9.4 percent positivity rate

Clark County

  • 13318 Tests, 1178 Cases, 46 deaths – 30 new cases 
  • 7.5 percent positivity rate

Floyd County

  • 9016 Tests, 760 Cases, 45 deaths, 20 new cases
  • 10.2 percent positivity rate

Harrison County

  • 3997 Tests, 321 Cases, 23 deaths – 12 new cases
  • 8.3 percent positivity rate

Crawford County

  • 920 Tests, 44 Cases, 0 deaths – 0 new cases
  • 3.2 percent positivity rate

Austin Man Arrested for Child Molestation

During the evening hours of Tuesday, August 4, 2020, officers from the Austin Police Department arrested an Austin, Indiana man on a warrant for Child Molestation following an Indiana State Police investigation.

Detective Josh Banet launched an investigation in June of 2020 after he was contacted by the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Austin Police Department and learned of possible inappropriate or illegal conduct involving a minor.  During the investigation, Banet gained probable cause to believe sexual conduct occurred between Richard Girardot, 54, and a child on two separate occasions in May and June of 2020.  The alleged incidents occurred at two separate locations in Austin, Indiana.   At the conclusion of the investigation, Detective Banet requested an arrest warrant for Richard Girardot on two counts of Child Molestation with a Child under Fourteen, a Level Four Felony.  On Tuesday evening, officers from the Austin Police Department arrested Girardot at his residence. 

After his arrest, Richard Girardot was transported and remanded into the custody of the Scott County Jail without incident. 

Detective Banet was assisted by caseworkers with the Indiana Department of Child Services and officer Shiloh Hurt from the Austin Police Department.    

Extension Office Fall Lawn Care Webinar

Photograph of lawn mower on the green grass. Mower is located on the right side of the photograph with view on grass field.

Now is the time to start thinking about fall lawn care. Do you have questions about the cool-season grass care and maintenance, fall lawn fertilization schedules, or lawn renovation options?

If so, you should plan to join the Fall Lawn Care Webinar presented by Jeff Hermesch,
Purdue Extension Ag. & Natural Resources Educator in Decatur County on Thursday, August 20, 2020, beginning at 11:30 am. Jeff will also be available to answer your fall lawn care questions.

To join the webinar and/or to receive the webinar recording, pre-registration is required by Tuesday, August 18, 2020, by visiting https://bit.ly/falllawncare2020. For questions
about the webinar, contact Purdue Extension – Decatur Co. at [email protected] or 812-663-8388, Purdue Extension – Jackson Co. at [email protected] or 812-358-6101, Purdue Extension – Lawrence Co. at [email protected] or 812-275-4623, or Purdue Extension – Washington County at [email protected] or 812-883-4601.

Twitter Bots Are Spreading Massive Amounts of COVID-19 Misinformation

Back in February, the World Health Organization called the flood of misinformation about the coronavirus flowing through the Internet a “massive infodemic.” Since then, the situation has not improved. While social media platforms have promised to detect and label posts that contain misleading information related to COVID-19, they haven’t stopped the surge.

But who is responsible for all those misleading posts? To help answer the question, researchers at Indiana University’s Observatory on Social Media used a tool of their own creation called BotometerLite that detects bots on Twitter. They first compiled a list of what they call “low-credibility domains” that have been spreading misinformation about COVID-19, then used their tool to determine how many bots were sharing links to this misinformation.

Their findings, which they presented at this year’s meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, revealed that bots overwhelmingly spread misinformation about COVID-19 as opposed to accurate content. They also found that some of the bots were acting in “a coordinated fashion” to amplify misleading messages.

The scale of the misinformation problem on Twitter is alarming. The researchers found that overall, the number of tweets sharing misleading COVID-19 information was roughly equivalent to the number of tweets that linked to New York Times articles.

We talked with Kai-Cheng Yang, a PhD student who worked on this research, about the bot-detection game.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

IEEE Spectrum: How much of the overall misinformation is being spread by bots?

Kai-Cheng Yang: For the links to the low-credibility domains, we find about 20 to 30 percent are shared by bots. The rest are likely shared by humans.

Spectrum: How much of this activity is bots sharing links themselves, and how much is them amplifying tweets that contain misinformation?

Yang: It’s a combination. We see some of the bots sharing the links directly and other bots are retweeting tweets containing those links, so they’re trying to interact with each other.

Spectrum: How do your Botometer and BotometerLite tools identify bots? What are they looking for?

Yang: Both Botometer and BotometerLite are implemented as supervised machine learning models. We first collect a group of Twitter accounts that are manually annotated as bots or humans. We extract their characteristics from their profiles (number of friends, number of followers, if using a background image, etc), and we collect data on content, sentiment, social network, and temporal behaviors. We then train our machine learning models to learn how bots are different from humans in terms of these characteristics. The difference between Botometer and BotometerLite is that Botometer considers all these characteristics whereas BotometerLite only focuses on the profiles for efficiency.

Spectrum: The links these bots are sharing: Where do they lead?

Yang: We have compiled a list of 500 or so low-credibility domains. They’re mostly news sites, but we would characterize many of them as ‘fake news.’ We also consider extremely hyper-partisan websites as low-credibility.

Spectrum: Can you give a few examples of the kinds of COVID-related misinformation that appear on these sites?

Yang: Common themes include U.S. politics, status of the outbreak, and economic issues. A lot of the articles are not necessarily fake, but they can be hyper-partisan and misleading in some sense. We also see false information like: the virus is weaponized, or political leaders have already been vaccinated.

Spectrum: Did you look at whether the bots spreading misinformation have followers, and whether those followers are humans or other bots?

Yang: Examining the followers of Twitter accounts is much harder due the API rate limit, and we didn’t conduct such analysis this time.

Spectrum: In your paper, you write that some of the bots seem to be acting in a coordinated fashion. What does that mean?

Yang: We find that some of the accounts (not necessarily all bots) were sharing information from the same set of low-credibility websites. For two arbitrary accounts, this is very unlikely, yet we found some accounts doing so together. The most plausible explanation is that these accounts were coordinated to push the same information.

Spectrum: How do you detect bot networks?

Yang: I’m assuming you are referring to the network shown in the paper. For that, we simply extract the list of websites each account shares and then find the accounts that have very similar lists and consider them to be connected.

Spectrum: What do you think can be done to reduce the amount of misinformation we’re seeing on social media?

Yang: I think it has to be done by the platforms. They can do flagging, or if they know a source is low-credibility, maybe they can do something to reduce the exposure. Another thing we can do is improve the average person’s journalism literacy: Try to teach people that there might be those kinds of low-credibility sources or fake news online and to be careful. We have seen some recent studies indicating that if you tell the user what they’re seeing might be from low-credibility sources, they become much more sensitive to such things. They’re actually less likely to share those articles or links.

Spectrum: Why can’t Twitter prevent the creation and proliferation of bots?

Yang: My understanding is that when you try to make your tool or platform easy to use for real users, it opens doors for the bot creators at the same time. So there is a trade-off.

In fact, according to my own experience, recently Twitter started to ask the users to put in their phone numbers and perform more frequent two-step authentications and Recaptcha checks. It’s quite annoying for me as a normal Twitter user, but I’m sure it makes it harder, though still possible, to create or control bots. I’m happy to see that Twitter has stepped up.

Indiana Reports Record Number of Covid-19 Cases Thursday

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported 1,051 new positive coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 71,015.

This is a new daily total record for the state’s case reporting; the highest daily total previously was 1,011 new cases on Friday, July 24.

Those new cases were reported to ISDH in the last 24 hours, following corrections to the previous dashboard total.

ISDH also announced an additional 6 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, bringing Indiana’s total to 2,811. Those deaths are reported based on when information is received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

New ISDH dashboard data indicated a 7-day positivity rate of 7.4%, with a total rate of 8.8% positive.

According to the data, 12,153 new individuals have been tested statewide, with the total number of individuals tested at 804,345.

As of Thursday, more than 32 percent of ICU beds and nearly 82 percent of ventilators are available across the state.

Washington County reported a total of 121 cases, which is a 16.3 percent increase from last week. 

A LOOK BACK

Here is a look back at the reported number of Covid-19 cases in Washington County. As of Thursday, August 6, there is a total of 121 cases reported. There is no information regarding recoveries. There has been one death reported. 

  • March 23 – First Case
  • March 26 – 1 case
  • March 27 – 1 case
  • April 1 – 3 cases
  • April 2 – 3 cases
  • April 3 – 2 cases
  • April 4 – 2 cases
  • April 5 – 2 cases
  • April 8 – 3 cases
  • April 9 – 2 cases
  • April 12 – 2 cases
  • April 13 – 1 case
  • April 15 – 1 case
  • April 25 – 9 cases
  • April 29 – 1 case
  • April 30 – 2 cases
  • May 1 – 1 case
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